Here are our takeaways from Michigan’s victory over Illinois:
-The homecoming atmosphere at the Big House in Ann Arbor was electric from the moment the band set foot on the field. The team was coming off their bye week and their destruction of Rutgers the week before. Coach Jim Harbaugh wishes there were no bye weeks for college football because he thinks teams relax too much the week before, or after the bye week.
-Saturday’s special guest captain was none other than the great baseball player Hank Aaron. Captain and All-American tight end Jake Butt said after the game it was a great honor to shake his hand at the game.
-The Wolverines received the opening kickoff and they took it down to start their opening drive down the field, eventually throwing a 3 yard pass to tight end Jake Butt. This was the first of many touchdowns this week by the Wolverines. This game would see 23 separate players touch the ball and make an impact on this game.
-Quarterback Wilton Speight had a coming out game with his 253 yards thrown and 2 touchdowns. He saw action through 3 quarters of this game. The team would also play Shane Morris on a play in the first quarter and John O’Korn for the rest of the game after Speight’s exit. O’Korn played well throwing for 38 yards at the end of the game.
-Michigan seemed to focus on the running game this week making sure 11 players got the chance to carry the ball. They were very effective with this. The most explosive of these men was Karan Higdon who had 8 rushes for 106 yards and a touchdown. He also had a long run of 45 yards in the first half. De’Veon Smith made his presence known early this week and ended up recording 18 rushes for 76 yards and a touchdown. He also had a long run of 17 yards.
-The Michigan receivers also showed their prowess with 12 men catching the ball. Amara Darboh had a good day Saturday with 5 catches for 99 yards. Tight end Jake Butt hauled in 3 passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. This game also saw the emergence of tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr. in the passing game. Wheatley caught 2 passes and also scored a touchdown.
-The biggest thing about this game was the dominance of the Michigan defense. This was the fourth game in a row that the defense gave up less than 200 yards to their opponent. They played like a well-oiled machine with the exception of 2 long plays given up. They allowed one touchdown Saturday resulting in 8 points with the 2 point conversion. This defense has found their stride and will have to truly prove their worth with the second half of the season.
-This team is 7-0 for the first time since 2008. This team has shown they are a force to be reckoned with. The hardest part of their schedule is lurking ahead, but the work and effort they have put forth so far shows they will handle this pressure. They will travel to East Lansing to face their bitter rivals the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans have had a down year but they will be up for this game no matter their record. The Wolverines showed their might with the 41-8 win over Illinois. Coach Harbaugh and his staff had them ready for battle today and will help them overcome the weeks to come.